Cryptic diversity of cellulose-degrading gut bacteria in industrialized humans

Sarah Moraïs, Sarah Winkler, Alvah Zorea, Liron Levin, Falk S.P. Nagies, Nils Kapust, Eva Lamed, Avital Artan-Furman, David N. Bolam, Madhav P. Yadav, Edward A. Bayer, William F. Martin, Itzhak Mizrahi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Humans, like all mammals, depend on the gut microbiome for digestion of cellulose, the main component of plant fiber. However, evidence for cellulose fermentation in the human gut is scarce. We have identified ruminococcal species in the gut microbiota of human populations that assemble functional multienzymatic cellulosome structures capable of degrading plant cell wall polysaccharides. One of these species, which is strongly associated with humans, likely originated in the ruminant gut and was subsequently transferred to the human gut, potentially during domestication where it underwent diversification and diet-related adaptation through the acquisition of genes from other gut microbes. Collectively, these species are abundant and widespread among ancient humans, hunter-gatherers, and rural populations but are rare in populations from industrialized societies thus indicating potential disappearance in response to the westernized lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereadj9223
JournalScience
Volume383
Issue number6688
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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